The diversity in characters within our team was highlighted by the different expectations of what the experience would entail for each of us and being in DC meant for us. While some of our more politically inclined members felt that they would be in their niche and were thrilled by the idea of being in such a charged climate, there were others who were more excited about experiencing the cultural aspects of the city. Fortunately, the all-encompassing nature of the curriculum ensures that we will all experience all these facets of the city – the professional, the cultural and the social.
“I get to return with new experiences, perspectives and ideas. I am privileged to learn more about myself outside of my known, comfortable surroundings and am excited to learn more about people from all walks of life which makes DC, so vibrant. Being in DC, feels like I’m on the verge of something great. I have this anticipation in my mind about what it will all tie up to at the end of our journey” remarks Charné Janse van Rensberg on what being in DC means to her.
We have also come across the multi-faceted experience of being on the program. In some moments we are worried about the impressions we would make on our colleagues in the workplace and other times we’re simply worried about finding the right stop on the metro. These stories remind us that we are constantly finding our feet in different spaces at various times or all at once, and that is what makes this program unique. The multiple spheres of growth that happen simultaneously are what push us all the way outside of our comfort zones.
One team member, Khanyiso Sangqu describes his daily interactions with the common people as one of the experiences that he enjoys the most in DC. In the same breath, he also explains passionately, “I have pinched myself every day as I headed to my professional work exposure on Capitol Hill in the office of Donald Payne Jr. They have stoked my growing admiration and affection for this city and country.”
There is a great anticipation for the effect that this experience will have on each team member and the team while they are here and when they leave which is the most exciting, as SAWIP alumnus and current team manager Wayde Groep explained. He reflects on his own journey of how he and other alumni have experienced the SAWIP journey as life-changing, and hopes to bear witness to how that takes form once again with the 2017 cohort.
It can be said without a doubt that the excitement still lingers in the air after a week of struggling to overcome the last vestiges of jetlag, getting lost in Washington’s incredibly intertwined streets and settling in the respective workplaces. The opportunities for growth and reflection await and the team seems to exude an air of readiness as the next week approaches.